UN: (Agencies: 5/1/2009): The UN Security Council was to meet again Tuesday to weigh an Arab call for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict in the Gaza Strip and for protection of Palestinian civilians, diplomats said.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the 15-member body this month, was to chair Tuesday’s meeting, scheduled for 5 pm (2200 GMT), and according to France’s UN Ambassador to the UN Jean-Maurice Ripert said.
A Western diplomat said France was working with Arab states to finalize a draft resolution that would call for an immediate ceasefire, specifically an end to the Israeli military assault as well as to rocket firing into Israel by Gaza-based militants.
The text would also urge the lifting of the Israeli siege of Gaza to allow humanitarian access to the beleaguered Palestinian population, protection of Palestinian civilians, a resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and a mechanism to monitor the truce and the protection of civilians, diplomats said.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday met with a delegation of Arab foreign ministers led by Arab League Arab League chief Amr Moussa and the two reported a convergence of views on the need for the Security Council to "act decisively and swiftly" to end the Gaza bloodletting.
After conferring with Ban, the Arab ministerial delegation met separately with each of the five permanent members of the council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — and later with the 10 non-permanent council members.
US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad said after his meeting with the Arab team that he shared "their concern about the urgency of the situation."
Earlier, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki expressed hope that the proposed draft resolution could be adopted at Tuesday’s meeting, which Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas plans to attend.